Can Dye Cover Bleach Spots on Black Fabric?
Chlorine bleach is excellent for whitening whites, sanitizing surfaces and killing mold and mildew; however, should a bit of bleach accidentally spill during the cleaning process, it will remove the color from any fabric it comes into contact with, leaving pants, shirts, towels and carpets covered with light spots. To correct this situation, selectively dye the damaged fabric, focusing on the bleached areas, or color them in with fabric-safe pens. While these remedies can be applied to any material, they tend to work best on black or dark-colored fabrics, as these dyes are not as difficult to match.
To cover small bleach spots, simply color them in with permanent markers of a similar color. This quick solution is generally best for short-term or emergency situations, since many markers are not colorfast and will wash out in the laundry; permanent results may require multiple treatments.
To re-dye bleached spots on a black garment, cover a flat surface with a thick layer of plastic, then spread the affected fabric evenly over it. Pour 1 tsp. of powdered black fabric dye into 1/2 cup of hot water, then stir until the crystals are fully dissolved. Dip a cotton swab into the dye solution, rub the swab gently over the bleached portions of the fabric, wait 20 to 30 minutes, then cover the fabric with a clean cloth and press it flat with a hot iron. When the fabric has cooled completely, launder the item as usual.
Should spot dyeing result in uneven coverage, it may be best to bleach the entire item and re-dye the whole thing. To do this, soak the damaged item in ordinary bleach water for 24 hours, then rinse the fabric in hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the chlorine. Once all of the color has been removed from the fabric, dye the whole thing according to the package directions. This will ensure even color distribution while eliminating unsightly bleach spots.
Excessive exposure to chlorine bleach damages cloth fibers, causing them to disintegrate. Even when the color of an item is successfully restored, fabrics that have been exposed to bleach will show obvious signs of wear and tear long before they normally would. Bleached and dyed items should be handled with care to ensure their longevity.
- Paula Burch: All About Hand Dyeing: How can I fix the bleach spots on my favorite clothing?
- Rit: Spot Dyeing
- "The Queen of Clean's Complete Cleaning Guide"; Linda Cobb; 2002
Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.
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